Jeff Gordon isn’t giving up on winning his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But Gordon has to feel like he’s double-timing through a swamp. Since the Chicagoland debacle – a mechanical failure relegated the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to a 35th-place finish – Gordon has finished third, second and second.
That’s the good news. And the not so good? He’s gained just five points of Chase leader Brad Keselowski. Down 47 points after Chicago – a race he had a good shot at winning – Gordon now trails by 42.
Still, there’s reason for optimism. Gordon has gone from 12th to sixth place in the standings. He’s six points out of fourth; 17 points behind third-place Denny Hamlin. One slip by Keselowski and it’s a totally different championship scenario.
“We can sit there and really get mad about what happened in Chicago, but the reality of it is all we can do is go each and every week and keep trying to put ourselves in position to win and get top fives,” said Gordon following his runner-up finish at Talladega on Sunday. “It’s not over yet. It is certainly not over yet. So we’ll see what happens. If we keep doing this, I really think we might have a shot at it.”
The key is controlling his own destiny, winning races rather than waiting for Keselowski to stub his toe. Tony Stewart proved, a year ago, that the best way to hoist the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion’s trophy is by winning races – five of them.
A victory is worth up to five bonus points, which can add up quickly over the final six post-season races. Gordon has five victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the most recent in the fall of 2007. He finished seventh in May’s Coca-Cola 600.